I am Setsuna may have been born from love of Chrono Trigger and classic turn-based RPGs, but the PAX East build showed that the game was willing to branch out into complex new areas to keep its combat interesting with varied tactics and battle abilities.
Combat wasn’t all there was to see. A peaceful, snow-swept village awaited Setsuna and her bodyguards. Their footsteps cut grooves into the snow as a peaceful piano track set the tone for the chilly area. The townsfolk there complained that the last pilgrimage had been a failure, and that they’d been lied to about it.
Several shops were also open. The first was the Magic Consortium, which offered purchasable Spritnites. Spritnites provide players with their Tech attacks, and can be equipped onto the Talismans they wore. Spritnites could also only be bought if the player brought the correct ingredients to the Magic Consortium, requiring players collect them from monsters.
Monsters do not just have single normal/rare drops, though. To encourage experimentation with abilities and techniques, monsters will drop different items depending on how they are killed. If they are killed during combos, certain elemental attacks, with status ailments, excess or specific damage, or other means, they will drop a different for each means in which the player killed them.
In order to receive the items needed to unlock further Spritnites at the Magic Consortium, players would need to be mindful of how they were killing each enemy. Experimentation is key, although the game does keep track of items the player has acquired, and the lethal means they used to get them, in a convenient log for each monster.
Spritnites are further complicated using Fluxes. Fluxes occur at random during tech or combo attacks, and they permanently add enhancements and abilities to a set Spritnite, should the player agree to add them. There are also support Spritnites that add passive abilities, and these can gain fluxes that add a weak version of another support Spritnite to their powers.
Food could also be prepared by finding ingredients in the field. Food gives the player powerful buffs that last for a single fight, and new recipes could be found by talking to NPCs when in possession of the proper ingredients. Many of these could be found by searching glowing points in the field, although no food was implemented in this build.
After digesting this information and heading into a nearby frozen cave, players could engage with the enemies. Combat is initiated by walking too close to the enemy, occurring directly in the field.
Players could attack and use Tech powers while in combat. Positioning was important to using these abilities, as many of them have specific areas they effect. It sometimes helped to wait until the enemies moved closer together before launching an attack that would hit them all when clumped together. Likewise, certain enemies did area damage upon death, meaning it was better to hit them when they were farther away.
Tech attacks did not limit themselves to a single caster. Each of the four playable characters in the build had combo abilities that used a second character, launching more powerful, expensive attacks that did high damage across multiple areas.
All attacks could also be further enhanced using the game’s Momentum system. Beside each character’s attack bar was a circular meter that also filled over time. This circle could fill up to three times, and with each full circle, players could enhance one attack by hitting square during that attack at the right moment. These moments were indicated by a glowing star popping over the character’s head.
When done successfully, Momentum Mode would add damage, status effects, or other handy things that would hinder the enemy. Doing many of these would also increase the random chance that a Singularity would occur, which is a large party-wide bonus that has a greater chance to appear depending on how often the player used Momentum.
The monsters in the icy cavern could all be dealt with using basic attacks, but with Momentum Mode, combo attacks, and the various items enemies dropped based on how they were killed, it encouraged players to always switch up how they kill the monsters. By using a variety of moves, players could gain many different items to unlock several kinds of Spritnites, which would give the player access to even more abilities.
Combat could have been a very standard affair, but Tokyo RPG Factory set out to make it a complex affair for players who wanted to get the most out of their characters. Judging from this build, I am Setsuna’s focus on storytelling, sadness, and character depth does not appear to have come at any cost to the technicalities of combat.